Sunday, 21 October 2012

Canberra - Party - Home Again

It was a quiet Monday night a couple of weeks ago when Terry turned to me and said 'Why don't we go to Canberra this weekend for a party?' Right sounds like a great idea ... lets do it!!

So the story is that it was Terry's middle sons birthday on the Wednesday and he was planning a bit of a get together at a local place somewhere in Canberra for a celebration .. it was a milestone .. he made it to 30! So Terry thought it would be a great idea to ride the bikes to Canberra. I was up and down about the idea. Firstly it was so far, 405km from Dubbo to Canberra according to Google maps. And it was such short notice, so I checked it out on Google maps, with my boss (who grew up in Canberra I have just found out) looking on and telling me the best ways to go. OK I remembered Chillertek telling me about a dam that was worth a visit, oooh I can do that and not add many k's onto the trip at all!!

Here's the map I found minus the side trip to the dam which is called Wyangala.

View Larger Map

Why no dam, cause we didn't end up going that way, more bout that later. So it was starting to get exciting by about Thursday and I couldn't wait to get on the road. We woke up Friday morning to the local radio telling us about all the places that had had snow that morning .... huh .. snow in October ... noooooooo. It was OK cause so far I hadn't heard of any round Canberra, there was some a bit south I noticed on the BOM website, but none in Canberra. So I went to work only to hear that it had snowed overnight in Canberra ....noooooo. Oh well if we had to drive the car to Canberra we'd at least still get a weekend away and get to go to a party!

Saturday morning dawned bright in Dubbo, but what was it doing Canberra? As far as we could see it was cold and raining .. well I needed some experience riding in the rain .... we took the bikes!!

The first stop was Molong, normally when going in this direction we have a stop before that but we had a lot further to go today and had to be there in time for a party so we pressed on til Molong where Terry would need to have his first petrol stop.

 While Terry filled up both bikes I got out the camera and snapped pics ... of Terry ... and of the artists gallery across the road. 

This guy does funky Aussie type stuff and I like his work though I'm not sure if I'd hang any in my lounge room. I have always driven straight past this place and often said I must stop one day and go look, this time at least we stopped long enough for me to look at the outside .. from across the road. I'm getting closer.

We decided to stop in the main street, another part of Molong I've never seen, for a cuppa and bite to eat. As soon as I got off Roxy and wandered across the road to where Terry had parked a bloke started checking Roxy out, she does like the attention. It was handy though cause we got good advice bout where the best coffee in town was. 

On our return to the bikes we discovered that Roxy had made a friend, we'd seen this bike go past us while we were eating lunch and heard the rumble too .... nice to find out it was a Shadow, Roxy's big brother!

We left Molong after a bit of a chat with the owner of the 1300 Shadow that was just so shiny it was blinding, and headed on our way to our next stop, Cowra.

This is basically the halfway point and as usual when we ride we found that we were not making as good time as we would have liked. We'd already gone past the turn off to the dam that I had planned to take and we decided not to take the turn off at Cowra either, maybe we would go that way home. 

We went down the main street of a town called Canowindra, which isn't pronounced anything like you would expect it to be. I'm very proud of myself that I'm finally starting to say the names of the places out here properly. Well properly enough that locals don't look at me all confused when I say I've been somewhere and say "huh?" anymore. Canowindra is billed as a historic town and historic it is, you can bypass all the interesting stuff and just keep going past the town itself and that's what we've done in the past, so this time since we weren't going to get a dam, Terry took me to see a historic town instead. Or at least to ride though a historic town. One of these trips we will stop and poke around here as it looks fascinating.

Cowra we found petrol in the oldest petrol station to be found. Unless you go really inland I've seen pics of older ones, but this one has to hold the record for me so far.

The bowsers had Super and Regular on them so we went with Super just for the hell of it. Next we made a beeline towards the Maccas across the road with the thought of finding a drink, but we ended up (after doing scary U-Turns near the exit of the Maccas drivethru) just taking our water bottles into the park nearby and munching on chocolate bars. We pulled up behind this Ford Mustang, was such a shame that the lady who was driving it wasn't friendly at all and just glared at us as we pulled in behind her then ran like she thought we were going to attack her. Ah well you cant stop people from being people can you :)

Right we had to get moving, the day was getting on and we were only half way. Next stop was Yass for petrol, and this time we were only stopping for petrol, no coffee breaks!!!

Merging onto the main highway from the country road we'd travelled down, a severe camber and a give way sign. As I watched Terry in front of me pull up and then struggle to keep upright on the camber I forgot to concentrate on keep Roxy upright, she decided to have a little snooze. Damn it at least nothing was damaged because of the highway bars, but those highway bars also helped Roxy to roll over more than she normally would have, I'm sure if she had just a little bit more momentum she could have ended up sitting upright on the handlebars. A bit of struggling saw her on the rubber side again and I was sure needing a coffee! So the petrol station at Yass ended up being a coffee stop. Lucky it was, took us bout half an hour to work out where to find a bowser that worked, it was being renovated and half the bowsers weren't working. So after downing half a terrible road stop coffee and finding our way around the maze of the the closed bowsers we headed calmly back on our way towards Canberra.

Next stop would be our last at the Motel in Kingston Canberra. This meant riding through the middle of Canberra, and that's always interesting as Canberra is just a series of circular roads, I wonder why I always get lost in Canberra. 

As we made our way towards our destination the rain that had been promised to us that morning showed it's ugly head, in the distance we could see ominous clouds and finally we spotted rain not to far ahead. When we started to get a few big drops on our visors we decided that we should put on the rubber pants. We've never actually had to wear those yet so it was interesting working them out. Putting them on at the side of the road over kevlars and big boots was fun, well that's one word for it, and after I'd succeeded Terry took heart and had a go himself. As I stood by ready to catch any men that decided to go flying down the hill past me on one foot tangled in plastic pants, I looked around us and took in our surroundings. We were parked on a widened bit of highway with paddocks all around us, across the road was a horse paddock and standing at the corner of his domain was the cheekiest horse I've ever met. He was watching us tripping and dancing round while struggling with the plastic pants from hell and laughing his silly head off!! 

We got the pants on before the heavens opened and took off down the highway with horsey laughter ringing in our ears. The rain started not too much further on but didn't last very long, maybe ten minutes. I'm not sure about that because it was my first time riding in real rain and I was concentrating so hard that the time just seemed to suddenly be gone and we were now starting to see things that looked like city.

City riding is another new thing for me, in Queensland I only got a taste of it when we got lost and ended up in Brisbane but we turned around and headed back out as quick as we could that time. This time I would have to ride straight through the middle of the Capital of Australia. I was feeling a bit apprehensive. But ... it wasn't busy, I thought it would be being a capital city and they were also just wrapping up the spring festival that they hold every year called Floriade  too, we went straight past most of it and still the traffic wasn't bad.  I like it, we did catch every red light along the way but that was OK cause in three lanes of traffic no one tried to do anything nasty to us. It was with a huge sigh of relief that we finally got to our destination with half an hour to spare before the party. Even though I was the one giving Terry directions and I have so much trouble remembering names ... so it was along the lines of  'ummm there's a funny circley bit of road that goes around a park, second left after that'. 

Terry digging for stuff at our motel.

We partied that night then got up nice and early the next morning with the hope that we would get ourselves back to Dubbo a little earlier in the day than we arrived in Canberra. So after a nice breakfast in the little shopping centre in Kingston we finally got on the road at about 10:30. I led the way back out through the city after getting us lost once and then unlost again. It's not a trip to Canberra unless you get lost and I've talked to people who grew up in Canberra who agree with that sentiment.

The trip back was pretty uneventful. As I went past the corner where Roxy had her little rest on the way down I got an attack of butterflies, I'm not sure why but I got through that feeling and even the next stretch of riding for the next 100k's or so that didn't really feel good. After a stop at Cowra and watching all the bikes that were stopping at the cafe we had lunch at, I was feeling on top of it all again! I did another U-Turn at Cowra too! It was all smooth fun riding. But again the time just seemed to disappear into a black hole, even though we were only stopping for petrol and only once for coffee at lunch time. Hmmm just have to get a move on, I finally noticed what I have heard and seen said about the 400cc Shadow, it's a little gutless in the top end. And it is a bit, I felt her slowing down on hills if I started them at 100km, then I would be full throttle and doing 90 by the time I got to the top of some of them. And I overtook a couple of times, overtaking a really slow moving vehicle like a farm machine or a learner driver is OK, Roxy can get the herbes up to pass that, but at 100km/h start she just doesn't have much extra to give. So the couple of times I did overtake were interesting and took me way too long to do. I was only glad I had Terry already in front to tell me I was safe.

As we raced along the home stretch it was starting to get late and I was watching for Kangaroos at the side of the road as Terry was too I'm sure. So when he simply said 'snake' it took a bit for me to understand what he was talking about. He'd run over a snake in the middle of the road, it was a big one too and by the time I got to it was twisting and leaping on the road like a wild thing. All I could think was ugh don't take it out on me, had to swerve to miss him.

We made it home by bout 5pm, roughly 6 hours to get home which was much better than the trip down. We were both exhausted, I really don't know how people do 500 miles per day trips. 400km per day two days running had just about killed me. Neither one of could move that night and it has seriously taken me a full week just to feel half human again. Was fun though and full of experiences that I loved.

Oh yeah the dam never got a visit, we just wanted to get home by the time we hit the road to go home, maybe next time we will do a trip when we have more time.


  1. Seriously impressed with the trips you're making Brenda - you can't but help learn plenty on journeys like that. Apart from the experience value, what an awesome ride through great countryside. I love reading about road trips, as well as doing them. Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks Geoff, it's always a learning experience. You're right bout the amazing country side, and there's just nothing like seeing it from the back of the bike, you notice so much more of it.

  2. Oh dear, Roxy had another little sleep. Least no harm was done to either of you and hopefully it won't happen again. Maybe you'll get to the dam one day, just be careful when you do, its a narrow winding road but lots of fun.

    Haha the old rain dance trick trying to get into the wet weather gear. Some how that never seems to get any easier one matter how long you've been riding. There are some great little back roads that you went on to get there, looks like a nice trip.

    1. Those were some good roads and yeah was fun. I did notice the winding bits on the way to the dam on the map (I'm getting good at spotting them) and that's a lot of the reason we decided not to do it this trip but wait til we had some time to enjoy them and not be too tired to concentrate on them.

      Hahaha I'm not as good as Terry at the wet weather gear dance, he's really got some amazing moves!!

  3. Great story. Sorry 'bout the tumble.

    It's fascinating how your journeys are similar to mine here but with interesting differences. Like odd names and small cultural rituals. Reading your account is like looking through a glass into an alternate universe.

    1. Thanks Ally. That's interesting, I guess that basically we are talking about the same experiences only the names have been changed. (some would add 'to protect the innocent' to that, but I know they only use those weird names to sort out the city blokes from the country) Nah that's not true either ... Most of the names are aboriginal names or words, the spelling can get a bit weird because early Europeans asked the aboriginals (who had never thought of spelling things before Europeans turned up). As Terry Pratchett once said, It's kinda like trying to work out when to stop spelling banana.

  4. Damn bikes just like to nap. It sounds as though you were able to shake it off and carry on, that is about all you can do when it happens.

    Long days can be great riding days but are better with ideal conditions (most I've done is a 12 hour day and 450 miles, or 724 km- that hurt).

    You had rain and traffic to deal with but overall it sounded like good fun. And hooray for no surprise kangaroos. Ick on the snake though.

    1. That snake was twisting and flipping around on the road like a worm, ick it was, I was also worried he'd flick up and bite me as I went past, he got a real wide berth.

      It was a great ride Brandy but exhusting, I can't imagine 450 miles in day, my brain just says no way and starts humming A-hah songs if I try. Well done !

  5. What a great road trip. I believe that 400km a day is more than enough if you want to see some sights still.

    Funny how the bikes want to take a nap sometimes unexpectedly. I guess we have all been there once or twice.

    Thanks, Brenda for this wonderful write-up.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Sonja :)

      It's nice to see some people agreeing with me bout the length of a good ride, to tell the truth I think bout 100 to 150 km each way for a ride is ideal if you want to stop and smell the flowers.

      And I think bikes get tired just like the rest of us :)

  6. You are getting more adventurous by each post..keep it up. After a while a 600 mile day will seem a walk in the park..

  7. Ya know ... Just the thought of a walk in the park exhausts me, no way I'll ever get used to big rides like that. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the adventure every now and then.

  8. OH Brenda:

    sorry about the Nap, but we have all done it, even though some would not admit to it. I have done it more than once, yes even on my Vstrom.

    One thing about touring on a motorcycle is that you see much more and more attuned to the smells and sounds of new surroundings. Even in the city you were starting to feel more comfortable with your abilities. You are getting braver with each ride.

    On one biker forum I recently read a poll where riders would input how many miles would be comfortable for a days ride and the concensus was around 500-600 kms per day. It is basically 3 hours in the morning, have a nice lunch, and 3 more hours in the afternoon. This gives you plenty of time to stop and also check in early

    It is refreshing to see you embracing your bike for these fun weekend trips

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Thanks Bob, I have seen pics of V-Stroms taking unscheduled naps when their riders weren't looking .. it happens eh :)

      Thanks for a thoughtful reply too Bob, I'm sitting here nodding at everything you are saying I just didnt know how to word those feelings.

      I have had another adventure which is why I have taken so long to reply to your reply, I've been busy all week planning for this one even though it was only a day trip, it was a biggun ... see my next post for more details :)